BC government moves to ban big money from local elections

Oct 31 2017, 3:34 pm

In a move it said is designed to “limit the influence of big money on local elections,”  the BC government introduced legislation this week to ban corporate and union donations to those parties and people running for local office.

“With this legislation, people can be confident that their local and provincial governments will be working for all voters, not just those able to write the largest cheques,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The government, she added has “already taken action” to get big money out of politics at the provincial level, she said.

These new amendments, added Robinson “will make sure that democracy at the local level works for everyone, not just a select few.”

The legislation would ban corporate and union donations, put limits on individual contributions and ban out-of-province donations at the local level.

Under the new rules, contributions for the election campaign of a candidate or elector organization will be limited to $1,200 per donor per year.

One donor’s total contributions to the election campaign for an elector organization and all of its endorsed candidates cannot exceed this amount. These changes follow the approach of the proposed provincial Election Amendment Act.

People have been asking for the ban

Wendy Booth, president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM), said local governments in the province have been “asking for a ban on corporate and union donations and a cap on contributions to local election campaigns since 2015.”

The proposed changes, Booth furthered, will “support fairness during campaigns and make running for office more accessible by strengthening the rules for local elections.”

The amendments will apply to all local elections starting with the 2018 general local elections and any byelections thereafter. This includes campaigns for councillors, mayors, electoral area directors and school trustees.

Once passed, the changes will be retroactive to October 31 2017, the day after the first reading of the legislation.

To allow candidates to transition to the new campaign financing framework, contributions allowed under the former rules and received before the deadline may be used for the 2018 general local elections.

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